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The 2009 Copyright Consultation: Setting the Record Straight

Toronto IP lawyer Richard Owens has posted an analysis of last summer's national copyright consultation in which he concludes that "if the aim of the Consultation was to canvass public opinion and discern trends, it failed." Given that the copyright consultation attracted greater participation than virtually any government consultation effort in recent memory, it is hard to see how it can be deemed a failure from a participation and public opinion perspective.  In fact, the government itself clearly recognizes the exceptional participation last summer.  Last week in the House of Commons, Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant noted:

The participation was unprecedented and we welcomed the comments of rights holders, users, intermediaries and everyday Canadians. We know that Canadians are concerned with copyright and its implications in our increasingly digital environment. This was demonstrated by the thousands of Canadians who took the time to participate in one way or another.

Owens arguments centre on the following four issues:

  1. The majority of the responses were form letters and those should be discounted.
  2. The majority of form letters were generated from a single website – CCER – that had the potential to "game" the system.
  3. Many of the submissions were not well-informed.
  4. The demographics of the consultation participants was not sufficiently representative of the Canadian public.

Form Letters

It is true that the majority of the 8,300 submissions were form letters.  While a form letter requires less effort than a detailed original submission (though not much less than some of the two sentence Access Copyright inspired submissions that simply say creators deserve to be paid), they still represent a canvassing of the public and the desire of someone to ensure that their voice is heard on the issue.  In fact, groups on both sides of the copyright debate offered form letters to their members or people they thought might be willing to participate.  The recording industry had a form letter (only 8 people took the time to submit it), the publishing industry had a form letter (17 submitted it), and supporters of the private copying levy had a form letter (22 submitted it).  Meanwhile, Access Copyright warned its members that "there is a danger your voices as Canadian creators and publishers will be drowned out by the chatter."  It urged members to post their comments that creators deserve to paid.  By far the most popular form letter came through the CCER site – by my count 5,025 submissions. 

We could group all the form letters as their own category (the government essentially did that by giving each letter a single post followed by the names of the signatories).  In that case, the "battle of forms" has a pretty clear outcome.  Thousands took the time to express their concern with C-61-style reforms, while a surprisingly small number of people employed or working in the music and publishing industries did so.  Contrary to Owens' contention, form letters provide a solid gauge of the public mood on an issue, particularly those with familiarity but not expertise.

CCER

Owens is also troubled by the fact that the single largest source of submissions came from a site operated by the Canadian Coalition of Electronic Rights, a group that represents modchip makers, as well as the involvement of the Torrent Freak site, which featured several posts on the consultation (including one of mine).  The concern with Torrent Freak is certainly misplaced as it is widely used as a source of original reporting on digital issues.  Indeed, Barry Sookman regularly references their articles in his Twitter postings (recent examples here and here).

As for CCER, Owens suggests that the site may have helped "game" the results by allowing anyone – including non-Canadians – to submit.  Yet according to site operators, forms were only submitted by those who included a valid Canadian address.  While it is certainly possible that a few people might submit using a fake Canadian address, it seems very unlikely that this would be a large number.  In fact, there is little reason for non-Canadians to take an active interest in Canadian copyright reform and suggestions that they hope to benefit from the ongoing existence of Canadian-based torrent trackers ignores the reality that Europe is home to far more torrent tracker sites than Canada.

Lack of Expertise

Owens raises concerns about the lack of expertise of many of the submissions, arguing that many are "poorly informed." As examples, he points to submissions that express concern about lawsuits or U.S. pressure.  While he might have pointed instead to submissions or articles claiming Canada is a piracy haven (such as this week's Canadian Business article), the claim that the broader public just does not understand copyright has been made before, chiefly by IP lawyers from large law firms.  It formed the gist of Barry Sookman's critique of the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group and lies at the heart of claims that "endless consultation is useless."

It is true that there are varying degrees of legal expertise within the Canadian public.  Yet surely someone should not require a law degree in order to participate in public policy.  The responses from those only passively familiar with the specifics of copyright yet concerned enough to participate in the consultation, speaks volumes about the interest the issue has generated among Canadians.  Not everyone may be an expert on the issue, but many know enough to know that they are troubled by the implications previous bills or the pressures for certain reforms.

With respect to the value of online activism, we will have to agree to disagree.  Evgeny Morozov (who is a he, not a she) is a colleague of mine on the Open Society Institute Information Program Sub-Board and I respect his views.  However, the Canadian experience – whether on copyright or protests against prorogation – is that the Internet can be a critically important tool in ensuring that more voices are heard in the policy or political process.

Demographics

Owens final concern involves the lack of women and francophones participating in the consultation.  The gender imbalance within the copyright reform issue has been considered in greater detail by Laura Murray and is a real issue.  As for the lack of francophones, perhaps it reflects the fact that francophones are not nearly as concerned with creator-focused copyright as some suggest (or perhaps many decided they wanted to do something else with their summer). 

Regardless, there is no reason to suggest that these demographics somehow invalidate the voices of those who did participate.  As Woody Allen says, "eighty percent of success is showing up."  Thousands of Canadians did show up this past summer to speak out on copyright and attempts to paint that participation as an abuse of the system or invalid are not only disrespectful to the many people who actively and in good faith engaged in a government-sponsored policy process, they are simply wrong.

99 Comments

  1. Death to democracy says:

    It is clear what Owens means.
    It is clear what Owens means. Democracy should not exist and only the ruling elite with access to law should fabricate the law for their own benefit.

    It is all so perfectly clear.

  2. @Above
    Yep, I got the same thing out of it. He wants lawmakers to be “superior to the sheep” whereas “the sheep” simply don’t know what’s best for them.

    Absurd, and completely backwards. More and more I look around me today and we (civilization) seems to be going further and further backwards. So much for betterment of mankind…

  3. Anthony Hémond says:

    After reading Mister Owens, I’m pretty sure he has not taken time to read french submissions. For exemple, our submission at Union des consommateurs has been published in one of the most influent canadian french Intellectual property review, les cahiers de propriété intellectuelle. So the critics of M. Owens are not very serious from this point of view. You cannot argue of the lack of french submission, and the poorly arguments of submissions if you don’t take time to read these submissions.

  4. Monsieur Mr says:

    Uh Oh
    Michael, have you stumbled on another debacle similar to the Conference Board melee? I mean, the crux of the IPOsgoode argument seems to be Canadian citizens don’t know what’s best for them, so let the lawyers/lobbyists and corporations make the laws that are “best” for us. ORWELLIAN!

  5. It reads like a paranoid conspiracy theory… and it offers absolutely no evidence or support for a lot of the claims. And that’s after you ignore that it seems to not give a damn about what a country’s own citizens want. It’s… not even worth commenting on in detail because it’s so, bluntly, pathetic.

  6. So who will the government listen to when they reveal their new copyright bills this summer? The unwashed masses who submitted their form letters and legal-speak lacking submissions, or the businesses and lawyers who want these form letters disregarded?

    I’m not holding out much hope for democracy.

  7. Most human rights came about despite the show of hands mindset. If it all came down to who sends in the most letters, we’d still be hanging people in the Don Jail, abortion would be illegal, and turning away immigrants. Most of the Harper government’s law and order agenda is pandering to the mob. This isn’t to say that the citizenry doesn’t have valid opinions on copyright, but just because a lot of people want something, that doesn’t mean it has to happen.

  8. Even if you discount the form letter submissions, the results of this consultation speak volumes.

    In 2001, there was a public solicitation of opinions on copyright reform as well.. over 700 documents were received in that consultation, with an overwhelming majority speaking against proposed changes to copyright law that would cause Canadian copyright law to resemble the DMCA, whose chilling effects were already being noticed. I feel compelled to quote what they had to say in conclusion of that solicitation:

    “The volume of comments, range of views expressed, and the apparent diversity of the stakeholders and individuals who participated by providing submissions are unmistakable indicators that the issues raised in the paper are of great interest to many Canadians.”

    In response to this solicitation, the decision was to _NOT_ move forward with plans to implement changes to Canadian copyright at that time that would have effectively made an amendment to Canadian copyright that is roughly equivalent to the DMCA.

    That’s with only just over 700 submissions… again, with a not insignificant number of these being generated by form letter as well.

    Yet somehow, the opinions of over 2000 Canadians doesn’t matter this time? Because we are uninformed? Because we don’t represent the Canadian demographic? Because we are just a bunch of people that only want “free stuff”? If less than 500 non-form letter submissions were enough to change the government’s mind on its intentions in 2001, why are the voices of over 2,000 non-form letter submissions not sufficient to express how important this issue really is in 2009? Even if EVERY SINGLE ONE of the form letter submissions could be attributed to the less-than-proper agenda that Owens implies, it is still a large number of people who do not. Further, of course, not all of the form letter submissions would have carried that agenda.

    I find his interpretations of the results of this consultation so completely offensive to the efforts I took in submitting responses to _BOTH_ solicitations (admittedly, my own letter in the 2001 solicitation was inspired from the EFF form letter, although I modified it somewhat to expound on my own personal views) that It takes not inconsiderable effort to describe it without resorting to vulgarity. I shall therefore refrain from expressing more about how I really feel about his opinion at this time and leave it at that. Perhaps I can find a more eloquent way to word it at a later date.

    To end this response on a note that won’t make me sound like a complete loon, I’ll summarize my own response here. It is, I believe, paramount that the anti-circumvention provisions be either dropped from any proposed amendment to Canadian law or else phrased such that it would only be criminal to circumvent copy protection *WHEN* the individual is otherwise (that is, not simply by virtue of circumventing) infringing on copyright.

    Cheers
    Mark

  9. Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights says:

    Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights responds to Owens
    The Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights has posted their response to Richard Owens article here – http://bit.ly/aqA2Di

  10. “Lay voices must be heard; but our elected representatives – and the bureaucratic
    experts who serve them – must judiciously draw heavily on the informed, not the
    uninformed.”

    I love this statement. This basically discredits a large number of uninformed responses from “Access Copyright”, and also the industry people that bothered to show up for the Toronto Town Hall. What do we all need to become IP lawyers before we’re taken seriously. Oh yeah I forgot IP lawyers stand to make massive amounts of money from mass litigation.

  11. Form letters, etc
    I’ll give him that he raised a couple of valid points (and in at least one case I read supporting evidence that he provided). For instance, that there is no guarantee that the “form letter” came from a Canadian (he provided, as proof, a post on TorrentFreak about how to get around the CCER requirement that the sender be a Canadian resident). He also raised the possibility of a single person sending, through the wizard, a number of submissions under multiple names. These I would consider to be the only valid concerns raised in the article.

    However, he then proceeds to ignore that a number of pro-copyright postings came from non-Canadian, or suspect Canadian sources. For instance, the CRIA made submissions, but they represent the Canadian branch offices of 4 American companies. So, should the CRIA submissions be thrown out?

    Other issues about CCER: “the over-arching concern is still that the Submissions were made on behalf of a shadowy organization, the members of which may be criminals, or on the verge of criminalisation”, claiming in a footnote that the RCMP considers them to be criminals (based on a parallel to arrests made at the end of March, which may be a bad parallel in any case since in the arrest buddy was also selling the pirated games). Frankly, this is nothing but fear mongering. If memory serves correctly, one of the reasons that a mod-chip may be needed is that for some consoles the game can’t be played unless it has been blessed by the console manufacturer. So, if the manufacturer doesn’t want a game that competes with one of their own (or authored by a company that is paying them a tribute), they can simply refuse to issue the codes that allow it to be played.

    As far as the CCER “form letter” is concerned, I thought that there had been some issue where IC(?) was comparing the sender’s address and determining it was a form letter based on that rather than actually looking at the text. Was this corrected? If that still occured then another of his assumptions is invalid.

  12. @Jason K
    To a point, I agree with you. Certainly the IP lawyers stand to make a bundle. However, with that same statement he does raise a valid point. Part of the job of government is to protect the minority from the “tyranny of the masses”. For instance, the current ruckus about the wearing of the hijab in Quebec.

  13. Captain Hook says:

    @Anon-K
    And to a point I agree with you also. If the laws that are currently being proposed only regulated corporations, then I’d say leave it to the IP lawyers to figure out. When the laws being proposed are going to affect what I am allowed to do in the privacy of my own home, and regulate HOW I get to communicate with other people, not to mention my privacy, then I and the 30 million other people in this country have just as much right to be heard and taken seriously as the IP lawyers.

  14. So what’s a concerned non-expert to do? Rely on a form letter and you’re ignored. Write your own and any mistakes you make will be used to discredit you and others who agree with the generality of your concerns.

  15. Yeeesh, Corporate shills crawling out of the woodwork.
    oh sheeez, did anyone read Castle’s blog on this? I won’t paste the link. All it is, is a jealous love letter to the Prof.

    Looks like the the doctor of Corporate Spin wrote a thesis on how this was all fixed. Of course no blog by Castle (or Barry who crowd-sources for his blog here) would be complete without the compulsory lead-up to how this is Michael Geists doing. He tosses Cory Doctorow of boingboing.net into his corporate rants today as well. Because, as we all know, Cory must be some demonic son of satan to write what he thinks (how dare he!), and dare have a twitter link to the prof and others, as stated in that corporate shill blog, thus showing his colors.

    There was a person posting here once by the name of SkunkStripe&White (something like that). Guess whose blog he was working on. He stated on this blog (paraphrased), “Do you think Barry (or castle, I don’t recall nor care) have the time to just write about Prof Geist? Do they not have better things in life to do than just write about him?

    Proof is in the pudding baby. Corporate Vultures are out looking for a kill (or some extortion money to take from Canadians).

  16. Anonymous Coward says:

    Richard Owens Quote
    “We sampled twenty-five percent of the substantive individual Submissions, and of the professional authors, musicians, filmmakers, performers, photographers and designers, more than 90% were in favour of robust copyright protection as a means to secure their livelihood and protect their artistic integrity.”

    I guess my hand-written submission was not sampled. Or maybe, as an artist who loves the public domain and hates the current copyright laws, my “opinion” doesn’t matter because I don’t have a high-priced lawyer to fact-check for me.

  17. Lawyers are technicians
    Lawyers can tell us what is legal or illegal, but they do not have privileged knowledge of what is right or wrong. They act *within* the system of existing law. They cannot tell us what the law *should* be. That is a political question to be determined democratically.

    The knowledge of experts is valuable, particularly where they are able to look beyond the existing conditions to what is possible and what the larger social implications are. Many scholars do this. However, it is explicitly not the job of practising lawyers, for in an adversarial system they are obliged to represent their clients’ interests (not to mention their own personal interest in expanding the scope of the law). Ultimately the law should serve the interests of citizens. There is no reason to think lawyers have any special claim to know what those are. The idea that their narrow expertise should override public concerns and participation is a perversion of democracy.

    I will illustrate with the traditional car analogy. Lawyers are like engineers. They can tell you how a car works. They can help you design a new kind of car. But they cannot tell you whether you should value fuel efficiency more than performance: only help you implement your choice. There is certainly no reason to think they can tell you where you should go. They are, however, likely to promote moving around in cars. They are less likely to suggest that you could walk or bicycle – or even forgo the trip altogether and play ball with your son instead.

  18. Heil Owens
    Quote — “It is clear what Owens means. Democracy should not exist and only the ruling elite with access to law should fabricate the law for their own benefit.”

  19. Owen and other IP lawyers looking to cash in on this, should heed the warnings of those before them. Just a few weeks ago, a UK law firm dropped its involvement with respect to sending out “copyright” letters to consumers stating:

    “We have been surprised and disappointed at the amount of adverse publicity that our firm has attracted in relation to this work and the extra time and resources that have been required to deal solely with this issue.

    We are concerned that the adverse publicity could affect other areas of our practice and therefore following discussions with our clients, we have reluctantly agreed that we will cease sending out further letters of claim.”

    From another law firm that that is following suit:

    “”Hopefully, other law firms thinking of going down a similar route will begin to realise that although this work can generate vast financial rewards for law firms and their clients, it can also bring a lot of adverse publicity simply because the practice is inherently unfair and unethical.

    The letters of claim that we have seen from three law firms [ACS Law Solicitors, Davenport Lyons and TBI] have been disproportionate responses to the alleged illegal file sharing activity. We also believe they were bullying in tone and that the behaviour of these firms breached the SCoC.””

    http://www.ispreview.co.uk/story/2010/04/12/uk-law-firm-tbi-quits-sending-illegal-file-sharing-threat-letters-to-isp-users.html

  20. Heil Owens Part II
    Is that not the definition of Fascism?

  21. Anonymous Coward says:

    Misinformed? Why?
    If Owens is truly concerned about Canadians being misinformed about copyright law, he should spend some time trying to stop the copyright lobby from misinforming Canadians. The single largest source of lies about Canadian copyright come from the moneyed interests trying to shove their draconian legislation down our throats.

    If he wants a better informed electorate, he should start there.

    But honestly, if I hear just one more lawyer telling Canadians they’re stupid, I’m going to scream.

    The only bright side is that they don’t seem to be bright enough to understand how much of a disservice they do to themselves by being so damnably bone-headed.

  22. Anonymous Coward says:

    This just in
    from Owens: copyright creators want mo’ money. Film at 11.

  23. Form letters matter more than association membership
    Certainly it’s true that sending a form letter shows less commitments than writing your own. But it’s still a lot more commitment than happening to be a member of a guild or association lobbying for extreme copyright.

    These groups claim to represent thousands of members dependent on the law. Who knows how many of those members they really represent? Fifty percent plus one? Maybe not even that. Their leaders deliberately use the platforms those groups provide to shape the views of their memberships. I have seen suggestions that Dr Geist spreads propaganda to “followers”. But unlike the captive audience of a guild mailing list, Geist’s readers have proactively chosen to read precisely because we wish to see what he has to say about copyright – and he does not claim to represent all his readers.

    The interests of those who did not participate are no less important. But they are hard to measure. The individual who sends a form letter is clearly taking a position. Behind her are hundreds or thousands more who agree but who did not take that step. Contrast this with the member of a group devoted to other matters – a member who submitted nothing, who may not even agree with the position that group takes. The membership numbers for those groups are an optimistic (or unrealistic) ceiling on their support. Individual submissions, on the other hand, merely hint at the support for the positions they take.

  24. Human beings are resistant to any change
    The media industry is resisting the changes. Nobody will pay hundreds for a single piece of software for simple home use. Nobody will buy whole physical albums when they want a single song – not to mention that CDs clog the space at home. This consultation clearly states that the copyright lobby shouldn’t be messing with the laws, they should be adapting and providing good content for sane prices. Unfortunately, on MAFIAA’s (and merry friends) biased studies and reports completely ignore that people will not buy everything they download but they do buy. They also buy more today than ever before – just seeing how the digital sales skyrocketed makes it clear.

    It’s easy to blame file sharing for your own failures MAFIAA. But that won’t make people buy more. Laws will have no effect on your revenues – if the majority don’t agree with a law it will be useless. The opposite is also true. The majority wouldn’t just kill if there wasn’t a law against it – however, there are always the minority that couldn’t care less about the law, is it fair to condemn everybody because of a few in the copyright case?

  25. strunk&white says:

    my good name
    I don’t even have to comment here and I still get called a corporate shill and a lobbyist. I love it.

    As I think I’ve mentioned before, I do not work for any lawyers, nor am I a lawyer myself. I am an independent professional creator – a writer. Please don’t mistake a reference to someone for an admission that I am under the diabolical corporate control of that same person. That would be inaccurate.

    Geof — I strongly disagree with your assertion that a form letter matters more than association membership. Professional artists pay good money to belong to professional associations and guilds. Not only do they pay membership fees and/or union dues (hundreds of dollars per year), but they often go out-of-pocket to attend policy conferences and annual general meetings at which association positions and policy statements are rigorously debated in public fora. It is real, functioning democracy in action.

    Even if, as you claim, they represent only fifty percent plus one of their individual memberships (and I think the percentage is much higher), that is still tens of thousands of professional artists in Canada. I’m afraid you still lose on real numbers. I know from experience that the groups who submitted statements were extremely responsible in soliciting member agreement on policy.

    I actually wish each individual professional artist in Canada would make their own submission (not using a form letter). On the other hand, they voluntarily join associations so they can farm out their advocacy and free up more time for their real work of creativity. I can’t really blame them for that.

  26. Form Letter says:

    Who cast the first stone?
    You know, when I emailed the Canadian competition bureau when the throttle first came out, I got a form letter from them.

    You know, when I email then industry minister Prentice about the throttle, I got a form letter back from him.

    You know, when I emailed my block MP, who didn’t bother to reply back but sent it to the then heritage minister when that awful made-in-america copyright bill of conservative prentices’ came out, I got a form letter back from her.

    You know what, I used a form letter this time as well. Why not? That’s all I got back from the conservatives. Thats is all they know how to do. And to top it off, they would send a form letter back not even on the same topic! They would confuse the throttle and copyright issues (proof on DSL reports in the TSI forum. Everyone complained.) They know this. We all know this.

    If they can’t lead (as leaders) by example, not have a damn clue what they are sending or signing their names to, then that shows more about them than it does about me (all of us) who for once shot a form letter back.

    So to the people flapping their lips about form letters: Bring it up with the conservative government who started them to us as they tried to pass their corporate copyright agenda off on the Canadian people. Let us know their reply. Oh wait… the corporate extortion lawyers of Canada won’t want to do that. Hands too deep in pockets. Instead they just wag their tongue and the vultures circle the prof. Pecking at anything.

    People should open their eyes to what has gone on the past years before casting a stone.

  27. Commitment you act on vs commitment you can buy
    @strunk&white writes that professional associations “represent . . . tens of thousands of professional artists in Canada. I’m afraid you still lose on real numbers.”

    No. You completely miss my point. Just as most members of professional associations did not make submissions, most other interested citizens did not make submissions. In both cases, the actual number of submissions understates support. Those who spoke up represent those who remained silent. Just as association submissions represented a proportion of their membership, each of the 6,000-odd citizen submissions opposed to C-61 represented many more people among the population at large. That is surely more than tens of thousands. (The Facebook numbers clearly demonstrate this, though they too are only representative of a larger constituency.)

    You talk about funding. As a professional writer I am sure you are aware that there is a world of difference between what an amateur and a professional can afford commit to a project. Associations have full-time professionals devoted to their concerns. We do not; Dr Geist is the exception that proves the rule. Significant projects require organization. Professional associations have this. Concerned citizens have had to start from scratch. We can’t simply pay a few dollars a year (the proportion of your hundreds devoted to this particular issue) and be represented: we need to do it ourselves. As a main organizer in Vancouver I spent tens of thousands of dollars of time on this without hope of recompense or any financial benefit.

    You say that most artists “voluntarily join associations so they can farm out their advocacy and free up more time for their real work of creativity.” Quite right. That’s what most Canadians do to. They look at the immediate priorities in their lives, they realize that this is not central to what they do, they see the steep barriers to understanding and participation, and they hope that others will represent them. Governments and lobbyists rely on the fact that ordinary people simply cannot afford to put politics first.

    These dynamics only emphasize the strength of support for fair copyright. The fact that individual citizens *without* the benefit of professional organizational support, *despite* the lack of obvious financial interests, and in the *absence* of funding nevertheless dominated the consultation is a testament to how many we are and how much we care.

  28. Anonymous Coward says:

    Amateurs?
    Only art made by professionals should matter in the 21st century. What do you mean most art is created by amateurs? They obviously shouldn’t have a say in any of this.

    Only professionals make real art. For money. All creative output is copyrighted the moment it is captured in some from of an expression. But only professionals who make professional art and belong to a guild, only their voices should truly have an impact.

    Because copyright matters to them the most. Not to the public as a whole. A public that has supercopying machines in their pockets.

    That won’t cause any problems at all.

  29. If a lawyer or a lobbyist is representing an association of companies isn’t that the same as a Form Letter? Its a template argument used for/by several people/companies.

  30. strunk&white says:

    Geof, thanks for expanding on and clarifying your position, but my response is unchanged. You can’t have it both ways — you can’t create a form letter wizard to make it super easy for everyone with even a vague interest in an issue to click once and submit their “opinion,” and then claim “representative” democracy. You actually have to have a representative democracy to make that claim, and creator guilds have done that.

    But let’s use your logic — that means every single one of the tens of thousands of association members who willingly allowed their names to be used in a joint submission actually represents thousands of other regular Canadian folk. Do you see how your math doesn’t work?

    Either way, I think “statistical gathering method” is one of the great hobby horses of this blog, no? “Are the numbers really accurate”, etc. It’s kind of disappointing to see this blow-off response from Geist on an issue of statistical accuracy. He is a Canada Research Chair in some kind of research isn’t he? Shouldn’t he respect accurate opinion gathering?

  31. strunk&white,
    you seem to suggest that the opinions of professionals belonging to professional guilds are representative of the general public. That is absolutely false. I am a professional and am fully aware that many of my opinions are different to those not in my profession. I think the health and insurance industry is a great analogy for this. An insurance professional may think that high health insurance premiums are a great thing while the general public would have the opposite opinion. To the professional its profit, to the public its cost.

  32. Canada is breathing better
    Lawyers with four-digit hourly rates are to disappear, and soon. And Richard Owens can lead them into nowhere.


    80% of U.S. workers – services. Services burn first in a crisis. It’s time to pay for the blood and tears of the third world.

    Forget about the “post-industrial economy”! The financial sector is crumbling, the rest will follow. Marketing, consulting, IT, insanely expensive American doctors, an army of greedy lawyers with a 4-digit hourly rates, banks, advertising, journalists, Hollywood, night clubs, gambling … By the way, you know where is the largest casino in the world? At the stock exchanges of New York and London! And who is there the main player? Leading banks of the world! Do not believe me? See annex below.

    Let us ask ourselves. What benefit to mankind do they create, which would justify 40% of global consumption? From where is such a scale of services? Who is REALLY creating value that they enjoy?

    And now the main question – what will happen to the U.S. GDP, and will need those guys from the services industries if unemployment is growing like mushrooms after a rain?

  33. Jeff Cliff says:

    I wrote what I wrote with the WIPO CT in mind
    Although I never explicitly mentioned the as yet unratified WIPO CT nor the DMCA, both were implicitly invoked in at least a few instances(ie sklyarov). I would bet that in creating this pdf they did not add my paper to the ‘against WCT’ pile, despite the fact that I am well aware of it.

    I suspect that their counting of people who mentioned the WCT is biased in at least this regard — if you actually weigh the submissions who came implicitly against the WCT vs those who came implicitly for, you will see a slightly different ratio.

  34. Accusing your opponent of your own weakness
    @strunk&white: Your guild may follow democratic procedures internally. The fact remains that many artists have said that the position taken by their professional associations does not represent their personal views. You can say all you want about the internal procedures of your guild. Regardless of how democratic it may be internally it will never reflect the positions of all members. This cannot be said of form letter writers. It’s pretty safe to assume they all stand for what they say they do.

    However, please don’t put words in my mouth. I said nothing about “representative democracy.” Representation is not the same as democracy. It can easily be used to subvert democracy. That’s how 20-odd percent of the population can determine which party controls the country – control that is then exercised by a handful of people. (That the party itself is democratic internally helps little.) That is how a relatively small group can and regularly do implement laws against the interests and wishes of the majority.

    I don’t want to quibble about different kinds of representation or get tied up in theories of democracy. My point is simply that for every concerned citizen who made a submission there were many others who agreed but who did not. Dismissing their effort to participate as less significant than merely happening to be a member of a guild is cynical in the extreme. Yes: you have the organization, you have the money, you have the influence. The advantages are on your side. Yet most of those you claim agree with you did not “click once.”

    The outcome of the consultation was clear. But politics is decided by communication, by framing the debate. The copyright extremists know their numbers are small. They have said so. Rovian strategy is to turn a weakness into an strength by attributing it to your opponent. Scholars disagree with you? Accuse your opponents of lacking expertise. You have frequent personal meetings with politicians? Accuse them of being undemocratic. You are supported by wealthy corporations? Accuse them of being cat’s paws of industry. You stand to gain financially from the outcome? Accuse them of being self-interested. You are few in numbers? Accuse them of low support.

  35. A Call For Disclosure – Who Do The Professionals Represent And Why Are They Hiding The Connection?
    I’ve emailed Michael about this, however I thought that some of the rest of you might be interested:

    A Call For Disclosure – Who Do The Professionals Represent And Why Are They Hiding The Connection?
    http://madhatter.ca/2010/04/20/a-call-for-disclosure-who-do-the-professionals-represent-and-why-are-they-hiding-the-connection

    Wayne

  36. @MG
    My take on this:

    Who represents Who?

    “It’s possible that a single musician could have been represented numerous times, on both fair copyright views, and the CRIA’s views (which are completely different) simultaneously in the consultation.”

    http://digitialmusiccopy.blogspot.com/2010/04/who-represents-who.html

  37. Linux user
    Mate, you’ve got to make your site usable for other OS’s. One third on the right hand side is indecipherable.

  38. Captain Hook says:

    @Jonathan
    I think you need to update your browser. I’ve been using Linux and Firefox for years without any issue on this site.

  39. Captain Hook says:

    G&M Today
    Found this in todays G&M

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/the-law-page/changing-canadas-tune-on-copyright-law/article1541032/

    This is the part that really frustrates me:

    “Mr. Chisick, who has represented the music business in major copyright fights, acknowledges the levy would do nothing to address illegal file sharing. But it would address the fact that under current law, even the music on Mr. Chisick’s computer, copied from his own CDs, is illegal.”

    The artist get paid when I buy the CD, they have no moral right to anything more from me no matter what I do with the CD short of distributing copies or public performances.

    With the constant push by industry to have this sort of “use” be covered by copyright law instead of simply copying and distributing, I feel totally vindicated as I sail the seas and pillage all that I can. Arrrrrrrr

  40. strunk&white says:


    Geof: Oh yeah? Well, you’re completely wrong. Our collective is forever stronger than your petty individual gathering. We will continue to exist long after the idea of fair copyright has crumbled to dust. That’s right! You lose. Now excuse me, I need to shove my head up a certain cavity.

  41. Captain Hook says:

    G&M Today
    The last line in the article is telling as well.

    “And, she adds, Mr. Chisick is a whiz at securing the rights to the songs she wants to sing.”

    First, Why does it not seem wrong to her that we would need to secure rights to sing what we want?

    Second. I do believe that we have a system of compulsory licensing so that singers can cover any song they want without having to seek permission. Me thinks she gives her hubby more credit than he deserves. This does none-the-less illustrate the overly complex copyright system we have. Is it any wonder that concerned, but legally illiterate people would gravitate to form letters that better express their own views than they could?

  42. Torrentfreak replies as well
    lol on Torrentfreak:

    Lawyer Claims TorrentFreak Abused Canadian Democracy
    http://torrentfreak.com/lawyer-claims-torrentfreak-abused-canadian-democracy-100420/

    Last summer, TorrentFreak encouraged its Canadian readers to have their voice heard in the country’s public consultations on copyright reform. The response to this call for action was overwhelming, and as a result a pro-copyright lawyer is now claiming that we “systematically abused” Canadian democracy.

    [...]

    Democracy is a great good, so when the Canadian government encouraged the public to have their say on copyright reform we decided to pass the message on to our readers. In doing so, we emphasized why we think that the Internet should not be controlled by copyright lobbyists.

    We’re fully aware that not everyone is in agreement with our views on copyright legislation, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have the right to encourage the people who do agree to have their voices heard. Isn’t that what defines a democracy? According to IP-lawyer Richard Owens, it isn’t.

    [...]

    By saying that our article on the consultations was an attempt to “preserve digital anarchy and continued flow of free stuff”, Owens pretty much exposes his own agenda. He wouldn’t have criticized the outcome of the consultation if it was in line with his personal views.

    It wouldn’t surprise us if he was instructed to write this rant by one of his befriended copyright lobbies. These copyright exploiting outfits clearly don’t want everyone to have their voice heard.

  43. Linux user
    Works well with 3 different distros of Linux here, and 3 different browsers on each of those platforms.
    Also works with Windows XP, Vista, and 7, using 4 different browsers on each.
    I occasionally use MAC OSx and 2 different browsers on it. Works ok too.

    Take a closer look at your installation, and perhaps try a couple of different browsers. Also take a look at what languages you have installed.

  44. Scott Watkins says:

    The 10 percent who don’t agree
    I’m one of the artists who is not in the 90% ‘agree’ camp from the consultation.

    I’m also one of the artists who does not benefit from the current business model, and would like to see changes. The changes to copyright law proposed by the rights-holders’ lobby are in precisely the wrong direction to be helpful to people like me.

    I’m a part-time artist who would love to make a full living from my work, but can’t under the mass-production rigged ‘star system’. People like me make up the vast majority of artists in Canada, and we are the primary beneficiaries of the new directions in technology, even if it’s still spread too thinly to make a real financial impact.

    Legislation that hampers innovation by locking everything down to copyright terms, and technological barriers that hamper everyone but artists who’s backers can afford to work with them, will strangle this change in the crib.

    I suspect that artists like me did not participate that much because they were too busy making a living and creating to pay attention. But given the free flow of ideas that occurred in this consultation, among the artists who did participate, and the enormous response above and beyond the ‘form letter noise’, I think more and more of them will pay attention in the future.

    So I’d like to thank Mr. Owens for stirring the pot up on this, even as he discounts the participation of myself and other artists, along with the large majority of consumer participants we found ourselves allied with.

    Copyright is going to continue to be a noisy issue no matter what the government of the day thinks of Owens’ arguments. That’s democracy for ya.

  45. Richard Owens
    His sword cuts both ways.

    On form letters. It’s a busy world, we often use forms to quickly express our status or opinions. Income tax, voting, surveys, etc. Even lawyers use templates for contracts and filings. A form letter received from the public is no less invalid than a contract generated from a template by a lawyer.

    On qualifications. I’m sorry Mr. Owens, you do not know anywhere near enough about the technology of computers or the internet or even p2p sharing to have a valid opinion on it’s use. That same could be said about many of the lobby groups or our government or even the general public. It’s a good thing that at least you recognize your lack of qualifications to have an opinion. But it does bring up the question of why you bothered to write your piece…

  46. strunk&white says:

    “I don’t want to quibble about different kinds of representation or get tied up in theories of democracy.”

    Clearly. An open and transparent consultation process is jigged; the numbers are intentionally not fleshed-out for the anti-C-61 victory dance; the in-person consultations are attacked on the grounds they attracted too many copyright holders; and, my favorite — Owens the IP lawyer is dismissed because he doesn’t “know… enough about the technology.”

    Keep frothing and spinning. While you perform your outrage for each other (in fancy costumes), the rest of us will continue to work for reform.

  47. RE: struck@white
    I thought that message earlier was by some spammer, but given your last statement I wouldn’t be surprised if it is the same person.

    You know what strunk? I think you should go to the house of everyone who uploads non-profit content (remixed, edited, and whatnot) on YouTube that is sourced from copyrighted material and try to citizen-arrest them whilst explaining what they are doing is wrong and piracy and all that. You would then see reality rather the fantasy world where you can campaign for your “reforms” while ignoring the gravity of the situation.

    Yeah, the guy who crafts an alternate ending to Batman I by cludging two copyrights clips together for sh*ts and giggles should be severely punished.

  48. strunk&white says:

    “Clearly. An open and transparent consultation process is jigged; the numbers are intentionally not fleshed-out for the anti-C-61 victory dance.”

    Where’s the scientific polling. There’s no proof of that. Industry can and should poll it’s consumers to find out exactly how they feel on the subject of copyright, how they buy and use product, what they want to do with purchased material etc. That way they might actually adapt to what’s taken place, which should have been done 11 years ago!

    These are accusations from the same people who are in large part responsible for doing the same thing. A lot of artists were not active enough in this debate, and were silenced, often shut out due to fear of breach of contract, and litigation by rights holders. From those that could speak out, the CRIA doesn’t represent the views of the CCMC who are members of the CRIA, and there are also members of SAC that are members of the CRIA, who also don’t represent the views the CRIA has taken on this issue.

    Combine that with an attempt by music execs in Toronto to shut out the public from expressing their views, when their views were more than once expressed by the CRIA, Sookman and others in invite only round tables.

    The accusations towards Geist and the CCER are not relevant to the public perception of this debate, nor will it change it. The public will decide the outcome of this debate, and right now the CRIA, Sookman, and many others involved in this don’t have any inch of credibility in the public domain due to their choice to go to war with the very public that will decide the fate of these industries.

    Geist is the least of your worries, and the more you focus on him, the more this will end up back firing at a time when lobbyist, corporate corruption, and contempt of parliament are the headlines prior to the
    introduction of this bill. The public has no interest in what the CRIA, Sookman, and others have to say. You can yell bloody murder for all it’s worth, the public perception will not change on this issue, and was fairly represented.

  49. strunk&white says:

    A little bit of common sense should be sufficient to judge the public perception.

    Does anyone on this blog or in industry or in politics think the public will support mass litigation or internet disconnection relating to copyright issues?

    Does anyone on this blog or in industry or in politics think that the public supports DMCA take downs of user generated content?

    Does anyone on this blog on in industry or in politics think that the public is willing to give up charter rights in the name of copyright protection?

    All anyone has to do is peer across the pond in the UK to see the dramatic effects and political consequences of not listening to the public voice on copyright issues.

  50. This Ain’t No Popularity Contest – It’s Politics – Follow up to my article on Disclosure
    This Ain’t No Popularity Contest – It’s Politics – Follow up to my article on Disclosure:

    http://bit.ly/atZruZ

  51. strunk&white says:

    Wayne – do tell… did Michael Geist “swear an affidavit stating who [he is] representing”? If so, who is he representing? Please tell me he said “the good people of this proud nation.”

    BTW, I’ll still post here as strunk&white, and whoever it is who thinks it’s clever to use my name can keep doing so as well. I’m not sure the message of this blog could get more muddled than it is in the comments section, but you can keep trying.

  52. @Wayne
    You might find this interesting as well:

    Canadian Bar Association disbands copyright policy committee:

    http://www.thewirereport.ca/reports/content/10675-canadian_bar_association_disbands_copyright_policy_committee

    It seems like lawyers can’t agree on which reform is needed either, and a lot of them are backing off from voicing anything until the law is introduced so that they don’t have any influence over Governments Direction. It’s interesting that hours before this release from the Bar Association we have Owen, and Sookman spewing out rhetorical, and going against the majority of the Canadian Bar Association to keep out of this.

  53. @Wayne
    “It’s interesting that hours before this release from the Bar Association we have Owen, and Sookman spewing out rhetorical”

    Damn Spell check meant “It’s interesting that hours before this release from the Bar Association we have Owen, and Sookman spewing out rhetoric”

  54. strunk&white says:

    Jason — your link doesn’t work. But anyway, the article is behind a paywall.

    BTW, you do know Michael Geist is a lawyer, right? Does it really surprise anyone that lawyers disagree with each other on copyright, or anything else?


  55. “BTW, you do know Michael Geist is a lawyer, right? Does it really surprise anyone that lawyers disagree with each other on copyright, or anything else?”

    And your point is? This doesn’t change anything about the article that Geist has linked to, nor does it reduce its glaring flaws.

  56. Captain Hook says:

    RE: strunk&white
    “BTW, I’ll still post here as strunk&white, and whoever it is who thinks it’s clever to use my name can keep doing so as well. I’m not sure the message of this blog could get more muddled than it is in the comments section, but you can keep trying.”

    This is one time I agree with whitey completely. Please, whoever is using his name, STOP. It is completely unhelpful and frustrating for EVERYONE.

  57. @strunk&white
    It was up there in full for a short period of time. For someone who is intent on consumers paying for online content, why don’t you pay the $25 if your interested, and stop wining about paywalls.

  58. RE: Jason K
    “For someone who is intent on consumers paying for online content, why don’t you pay the $25 if your interested, and stop wining about paywalls.”

    Good point!

  59. strunk&white says:

    yeah… I think consumers should pay for the content they want, if it is not offered for free. I don’t particularly want to read this article you’ve linked to. At this point my $25 is better spent on a good Canadian book.

    If you’ve read the article, why don’t you paraphrase for all of us. Paraphrasing is not considered copying, and reporting is allowed under fair dealing. Try to paraphrase accurately. That’s helpful.

  60. “Mr. Chisick, who has represented the music business in major copyright fights, acknowledges the levy would do nothing to address illegal file sharing. But it would address the fact that under current law, even the music on Mr. Chisick’s computer, copied from his own CDs, is illegal.”
    supporters of the levy always point to this.. They always say the levy will “fix” this problem we currently have where things that we all know should be legal are currently illegal. They never explain why a levy is needed to make this correction. If we agree it should be legitimate use, how does that translate to “we should pay a levy”?

  61. @strunk&white
    “If you’ve read the article, why don’t you paraphrase for all of us. Paraphrasing is not considered copying, and reporting is allowed under fair dealing.”

    Nope sorry, I support innovation and attempts to monetize content rather than offer any support (or spit for that matter) to those who have made it clear they want to continue to wage war on their main source of income and take advantage of the very ideals they are fighting against.

  62. strunk&white says:

    JK — why so angry? I thought you wanted to talk about lawyers disagreeing. You offered up the link, not me.

    Why is everyone here so angry all the time? Conspiracy this, lobbying that. It’s earth day. Lighten up.


  63. “Why is everyone here so angry all the time? Conspiracy this, lobbying that. It’s earth day. Lighten up.”

    Funny that this only happens when you invade conversations here. -_-

    I certainly respect the existence of alternate viewpoints, but you use your point-of-view as part of a petty troll attack on this blog, instead of using honesty and tact. Tt really doesn’t inspire people to be open about your viewpoint, to say the least.

  64. “Why is everyone here so angry all the time? Conspiracy this, lobbying that. It’s earth day. Lighten up.”
    http://xkcd.com/14/

  65. Re: Eric L
    The position or view point of the corporate lobby, in which whitey boy above supports, holds no weight with respect to the public temperament especially right now after this Jaffer biz up in Ottawa. I don’t think the Canadian people have much appreciation for anything that comes from the other side of this debate at all. Most musicians now I’ve spoken with over the past few weeks, some of which are with the CRIA member labels are starting to agree that the future of is with monetization and that what industry has put forth will fail politically, and practically.

    If the conservatives even have a wiff of corporate influence on this bill, they will be hounded by the public. The political environment over the past few weeks has changed, and we could be looking at reforming the lobby act soon, after this whole Jaffer business.

    strunk&white: PPL are angry here because there’s an underlying issue that their voices don’t count for anything, and that basically the corporate lobby has more influence over public policy than it’s own ppl, which is represented in not just the past 3 attempts at copyright reform but in other area’s as well.

    The Jaffer case has brought that anger Canadians feel out into the open. And if you think ppl are angry now, if the next copyright bill doesn’t put forth what was discussed in the consultation they will be voted out on a dime. The Canadian people have spoken, form letters or not. Those speaking out against the form letters were very much aware of Canadians voice on the subject of copyright prior to the consultations. So is our government. Thousands of e-mails went out that were not form letters to respected MP’s voicing concern across the country on the last attempt of reform.

    Trying to discredit these form letters, only drives any hope of public support or sympathy for their cause. In fact it re-enforces the fact that industry lobby has been trying to silence the public’s voice to their representatives. The more they push like this the better it is for Geist, his views, and his support. Don’t believe me, wait a few weeks.

  66. Re: Jason K
    “The position or view point of the corporate lobby, in which whitey boy above supports, holds no weight with respect to the public temperament especially right now after this Jaffer biz up in Ottawa. I don’t think the Canadian people have much appreciation for anything that comes from the other side of this debate at all. Most musicians now I’ve spoken with over the past few weeks, some of which are with the CRIA member labels are starting to agree that the future of is with monetization and that what industry has put forth will fail politically, and practically.

    If the conservatives even have a wiff of corporate influence on this bill, they will be hounded by the public. The political environment over the past few weeks has changed, and we could be looking at reforming the lobby act soon, after this whole Jaffer business.”

    I agree with you. My point was that whitey’s behaviour on this blog only just hurts his cause, in response to him asking why everyone gets angry with his presence. I don’t have to think twice that his position would never even come close to being supported by the majority of the Canadian populace. I was merely pointing out the glaring flaws in his debating methods.

    By the way, could you post a link regard this Jaffer controversy? I would like to learn more about it.

  67. strunk&white says:

    Happy World Book and Copyright day everyone!

    http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/book/

    I am celebrating with a full day of anticipating a new bill. Can’t wait.

    Eric L. — If you do your research (look back in the thread), you will note my name or some version of it — why does everyopne have so much trouble with it? — was referenced in anger BEFORE I even commented. You folks need to own your anger. It’s unhealthy not to.

    While you’re doing your research — show me where I’ve aligned myself with “the corporate lobby.” I’d be interested to know. I voice my own opinion — that of an independent Canadain artist — and no-one else’s (no form letters from me). I know that’s a unique experience in these threads, but there you go.

    Pay attention people — Graham Henderson was talking to the Heritage Committee just yesterday, I believe. Start agitating for public outrage.

  68. @Eric L
    The Jaffer issue has to do with an ex-MP who was found to be lobbying the government, and is not a registered lobbyist. There are currently allegations that his wife who sat in the Conservative Cabinet may have had some hand in this as well. His wife Helena Guergis was thrown out of cabinet by Harper, and is under investigation by the RCMP. Jaffer testified this week before a parliamentary committee, and pretty much was slammed by all members of parliament, stating what he has done tarnished all in the political profession. He was also caught in a few lies, claiming innocence.

    Documents after that the parliamentary hearings were obtained from Government Officials that basically prove he was lobbying the government unregistered.

    Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but the Conservative mandate when they were elected was to bring in reforms around lobbying and accountability in Government. The Global Economic issues we are having are basically do to the corporate lobby in the US. If you go to PBS’s home page, and click on shows than “Frontline” view the show episode called “The Warning”.

    The underlying issue with the public is that they see corporate lobbyists as the bad guys, especially how the music industry and Graham Henderson is treating things, bank and auto bail outs, corporate greed now in the head lines of major Canadian papers due to this Jaffer thing. Government seems to be aware of this now, and all parties over the past week, seem to be very quick to distance themselves with the Jaffer case, and very, very strong language used to describe his alleged offenses even from within the Conservative party, probably because they know what the public thinks about lobbying and corruption.

    This is also an underlying issue to the copyright debate regardless of registered lobby or not, will put into question the credibility of the government if lobby influence were to be seen in the bill. Those of us who participated in the copyright consultations, know there was a huge number of corporate lobbyists involved in the consultations, and then there was the public’s view, which is well known and can not be disputed. The copyright bill must at this particular point in time represent the Canadian Public’s voice, or there most certainly will be political consequences for this, amplified now by the Jaffer case.

    The “At Issue” panel last night had a short discussion on what the Jaffer case could mean in the future for lobby laws.

    http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/TV_Shows/The_National/ID=1476047437

  69. Captain Hook says:

    Hey there strunk&troll!

    “Happy World Book and Copyright day everyone!”

    I hope you found the last public domain day equally as satisfying. I actually found it much more so myself.

    “I am celebrating with a full day of anticipating a new bill. Can’t wait. ”

    Do you think the new bill will be anything like what India came up with? Expanded fair use, and a ban on circumvention ONLY when it is to break copyright. We live in hope.

  70. strunk&white says:

    Really? Pirates live in hope of a law that will treat them as pirates and prosecute them for being pirates? Interesting.

    Either you’re not a real pirate (wha?), or you haven’t fully thought this out (first time ever, I know).

    But let’s not squabble. It’s Copyright Day! The happiest day ever. I don’t know how it is where you are, but in my world right now it’s sunny and beautiful.

  71. strunk&white says:

    Hey, anyone know why Michael Geist hasn’t posted or tweeted anything celebrating UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day?

  72. @Eric L
    The direct like to the frontline program I was talking about above can be viewed online here:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning/view/

    The more media covers any of the lobbist views around copyright, the better it is for us. Don’t worry about whitey, why would you want to save his views from damage anyway. He’s here to antagonize Giest posters, and what he really doesn’t realize is the fact that the Canadian People hold those views in the same regards as we do, as a load of crap. The Canadian people will decide the fate of this debate, and the corporate lobby has a long running war against the public. The corporate lobby already lost 10 years ago, and will be amplified now by the Jaffer case, and the reason why we went through an economic downturn.

    The money spent on lobbying efforts by industry on the copyright debate which may rang into the billions world wide, could have been better spent on adapting business models, and artists presentation and promo online. Everything they have done thus far has failed, and artists within industry who have given permission for these people to lobby on their behalf are starting to see this, and accepting failure as the norm with respect to views especially that the CRIA hold.

    You can not win when you go to war, not only with your main source of income, but the public that basically will decide what copyright legislation looks like. If they don’t understand this, nor do our politicians, then they will be accountable to the public voice no questions asked. Let whitey spew is mouth out, and damage even further any support he has for his arguments. That has to happen now.

  73. @Eric L
    As far as I’m concerned Clement should be before an ethics committee, and appear before the lobby commission on what happened with respect to Industry shutting the public out of the Copyright Toronto Town Hall. I think Clement’s explanation that “They must have had the night off” is not acceptable. I think that issue needs to be investigated as well.

  74. Captain Hook says:

    @strunk&troll
    Likely, given the direction of copyright these days, he sees little to celebrate. But you’ve probably guessed that one already.

    I did notice though, that he had a word or two to say about Public Domain Day at the start of this new year.
    http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/4655/196/

    Now that is worth celebrating. Don’t you think?

  75. Captain Hook says:

    International Copyright Day
    Here is my suggestion for ways to ‘celebrate’ copyright day.

    Buy a T-shirt
    http://questioncopyright.com/qco-t-cens-m.html

    Read a Blog
    http://questioncopyright.org/censorship_examples_wanted

    Sign a Petition
    http://www.digital-copyright.ca/petition/

    Listen to Music
    http://www.illegal-art.org/audio/grey.html

    Compile a literature reference book
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/09/nyregion/09potter.html?_r=1

    Write some fan fiction
    http://www.blurtit.com/q526237.html

    So many things to do, and only one day to do it.

  76. @Jason K
    Interesting video in the link to PBS you supplied above.

    I come away with a couple of primary messages from this video.

    The intellectual elite can be blind, and jealous, of their world views like anyone else. Since they consider themselves the elite and are often in positions of influence, they are more effective at ignoring the warning signs that their views are wrong.

    In the US, the financial industry had 5 lobbyists per congressman. If we extrapolate this to the entire lobby infrastructure, it becomes obvious that the average congressman has very little time to pay attention to their constituent needs and wishes. The lobbyists are always there, immediate, demanding of attention, and apparently intellectually astute. But they have an agenda that shouldn’t be trusted, at least not blindly.

    It’s pretty obvious that the whole lobby infrastructure has to be massively pruned back to allow government to properly represent the people.

    If I then extend these observations into the current copyright issues, the logical thing is for our politicians to exclude or ignore any of the lobby group recommendations or observations. In it’s essence, copyright protection is a balance between the artist/creators and the public interest.
    Businesses that have been built around the concept of copyright should have very little influence, if any, on the decisions our society makes. Our elected representatives need to be able to make decisions based on the core of the issues, without lobby groups jiggling their elbows or otherwise influencing them. Paying attention to the lobby groups has the potential to cause damage to our society, and the bigger or stronger the lobby effort, the bigger the danger..

    The potential for damage to society from ACTA takes on a larger perspective, if we view things in light of the problems with lobby groups and big business shown by this video.

  77. strunk&white says:

    Oh lord, you folks are in a rut. What a sad, pessimistic world view you encourage.

    Maybe you’ll be happier on World Anti-Lobbyist Day, whenever that is.

    Or World Why Won’t Anyone Sign My Petition or Buy My T-Shirt Day.

    Me, I have a fresh, newly published Canadian book on my desk — straight out of the bindery. It smells like creativity, with a delightful hint of author protection. What a great day for “the Canadian People.” Another book has been created for us by a generous writer.

  78. @oldguy
    “But they have an agenda that shouldn’t be trusted, at least not blindly.”

    I completely agree with that statement. In any business you have a competitive market. In business you do what’s needed to get the competitive edge over anyone else, in hopes of obtaining and sustaining market share in your industry. In the States this means how much money and influence you have over legislators who make law that determines your competitiveness in the marketplace. But I think as you watched the PBS video that greed often gets in the way of protecting the public, our economy, and our society, because of bad laws written due to lobby influence and the blind sightedness of politicians. The entire globe and our economy went through the fruits of that mistake, and artists themselves are going through that now. It’s not file sharing that’s the issue, it’s the billions spent on lobbying that should have gone towards representing the artist in the digital realm. Where are they getting these billions from if they are suffering so much.

    I think the greatest injustice is how the Artistic community has been dupped into this mess. Artists also need to look very closely at contracts. The costs of everything from production etc, have gone way down, they should be getting paid a lot more by labels and rights holders.

    Yesterday the Loreena McKennitt who is an artist, and owner of a small indie label called Quinlan Road belched out that “There is no such thing as users rights” with respect to copyright and the net. She has also been a strong opponent of file sharing, pretty much blaming file sharing for her demise.

    Compare websites for a second, of Quinlan Road, and another indie label that has adapted and making a large amount of cash around the file sharing and started with nothing:

    Quinal Road: http://www.quinlanroad.com/

    Armada Music: http://www.youtube.com/user/armadamusic

    Armada is currently on top with the way labels like Quinlan Road should be promoting talent, and is regardless of copyright laws globally. Quinlan Road is not competitive enough to survive in the marketplace they are faced with. McKennitt’s label doesn’t belong at any committe hearing, she doesn’t even know how to represent talent, even from the old way of doing things, yet she blames this on P2P. That’s the biggest crock I’ve ever heard, and is continuous with those who have business with the CRIA.

    There are tons of examples of what labels like McKennitt’s should be doing, and are not, which is hurting the artists bottom line. The money these labels do make go towards lobbying rather than presenting and promoting talent in the digital marketplace.

  79. strunk&white says:

    Actually, Jason K, here is what Loreena McKennitt actually said. It really does help to keep statements in context:

    “It is my view, that we should be extremely careful with this kind of language because it isn’t a matter of ‘user rights’ but rather ‘user permissions’ and once we dispel the notion that in this respect, there is no such thing as user rights, or that people own the music in a CD or a digital download, we can cease worrying about how to ‘balance these rights.’ Many things the public wishes to do with what they purchase can all be accomplished within the framework of permissions and personal use.”

    And I have to say, your take on Quinlan road as some kind of irelevant dinosaur makes me question your perceptions. These next two are also from her statement to Parliament:

    “In my company, we confront the new realities every day and we have been hard at work trying to offer new products in new ways and fully leverage the new technologies, but I am here to tell you that making predictions and investments is impossible without some stability in the fundamental recognition and protection of intellectual property.”

    “After 5 years of a do-it-yourself approach, I signed a licensing agreement and now have a mixture of licensing and distribution deals around the world with a variety of companies. These have realized sales of over 13 million recordings. Presently, not only do I continue to function as an artist but also to manage both the creative and business side of the operations of Quinlan Road on a daily basis and on an international level.”

    You seem to have missed entirely the point that McKennitt IS the artist and represents herself. Do your homework.

  80. @strunk&white
    “In my company, we confront the new realities every day and we have been hard at work trying to offer new products in new ways and fully leverage the new technologies, but I am here to tell you that making predictions and investments is impossible without some stability in the fundamental recognition and protection of intellectual property.”

    I just disproved that.

    Comments From:

    http://www.canadianbusiness.com/technology/trends/article.jsp?content=20100426_10019_10019

    “Calling from her office, McKennitt says her business these days is in disarray. Music sales have plummeted, and she’s cut 10 employees from her staff while at the same time tracking 48,000 free downloads of her entire catalogue of albums over a period of just more than a month.

    “From the inside, this looks like a nuclear war,” she says. “The damage is nearly total, and what exists now is the skeleton of an industry.”

    Question, where’s the money coming from for the lobbies?

    and

    “The food chain runs deep,” she says of the job losses. “This is like the end of the family farm for many people. You have to wonder how we got here.”

    That statement above is just so full of ignorance it’s incredible. In her own voice she’s admitting Quinlan Road isn’t competitive, yet she just can’t seem to find out why, so it must be IP rights..lol Investment is already in the marketplace, I’ve put forth an indie label that is an example of following the marketplace, and is on the leading edge of it, and most importantly making money without IP reform. They just poor the money into the artists, rather then lobbyists.

  81. “Oh lord, you folks are in a rut. What a sad, pessimistic world view you encourage. Maybe you’ll be happier on World Anti-Lobbyist Day, whenever that is.”

    Doesn’t seem like you viewed the video, or see the implications.

    Let me post a few words from the PBS site (expanded on in the video).
    Concerning Brooksley Born: “I was told that she was irascible, difficult, stubborn, unreasonable.” Levitt explains..[].. a conclusion he now believes was “clearly a mistake.”

    Her problem? She predicted the financial collapse of 2008, in 1998. But of course the financial lobby groups and the intellectual elite at the time managed to shut her down. 10 years later, the dominoes fall, and all of society suffers.

    But your proposal has merit. Perhaps we should have a “World Anti-Lobbyist Day”. On that day, every politician closes their doors to lobbyists, throws away every document submitted by lobby groups, and wipes clean the slate. The lobby groups then get to start over from scratch with updated “surveys”, reports, and requests. They are not allowed to reintroduce old material, it must be updated with verifiable statistics.
    The goal is to limit the political influence of lobby groups, and the potential damage to society. Anything that furthers that goal should be considered, even your suggestion.

  82. strunk&white says:

    Sorry for the delayed response. I took Copyright evening off to watch the Blue Jays defeat the Rays on a copyrighted broadcast of Major League Baseball. I’m sure there’s something inherently evil about that as well, so I await your conspiracy-laden theories. Anyway, great game, but the Jays really have a problem with Jason Frasor. He’s not the closer they hoped he would be, and he clearly can’t set up the closer either. Nice guy, but he can’t take the heat.

    Interestingly, I purchased a subscription to MLB At Bat 2010 on my iPhone. For $15 a year, I get real time results and audio for every game in MLB, plus one free video stream per day (this weekend, every video stream is free — must be a Copyright Day celebration). MLB is very, very protective of their intellectual property, they have monetized new media and, despite all the steroid scandals, occasional attendance problems and the continued existence of Alex Rodriguez, baseball does quite well for itself, for its fans and for its players.

    Jason K — what is it you think you’ve disproven? The fact that Loreena McNennitt is NOT a corporation, IS actually a highly successful independent artist with very real economic impact? Your typo is hilarious “they poor the money into the artists.” I’m sure they do. How much do Armada Music artists make? How many employees do they support with their music?

    Loreena McKennitt’s lobby costs were likely a return train ticket to Ottawa and a hotel room, plus meals. What kind of terrifying corporate lobby do you think this one highly successful independent artist is? Please, realism.

    But you know what — you guys are right. I’m a shill, and this whole debate is being influenced by powerful American lobby interests. I respectfully bow out of this conversation on yet another beautiful day for copyright (going to a small provincial book arts fair today — yay books! yay copyright! — and then to a small not-for-profit opera — yay performance! yay copyright!). I will enjoy myself immensely, and after I do, I will congratulate the feds for their continued support for our common cultural product.

    You guys keep whining to them about how they are in the pockets of evil lobbyists. That’s an important perspective they need to keep hearing from you. Send a form letter.

  83. “”It is my view, that we should be extremely careful with this kind of language because it isn’t a matter of ‘user rights’ but rather ‘user permissions’ and once we dispel the notion that in this respect, there is no such thing as user rights, or that people own the music in a CD or a digital download, we can cease worrying about how to ‘balance these rights.’”

    The above statement expresses a sentiment which is at the opposite extreme of the “abolish copyright” advocates. Both extremes are far from what is intended or expressed in copyright law, starting from it’s inception 300 years ago. Neither of these extremes is helpful in formulating a balance between society and the artist/creator.

  84. “You guys keep whining to them about how they are in the pockets of evil lobbyists.”

    The lobbyists aren’t evil. They simply have their own agenda which has nothing to do with society or government, and everything to do with quarterly returns.
    Nor does a politician have to be “in their pocket” to be unduly influenced by them. The typical lobbyist is a skilled salesman, and has time, funding, resources, and training to back them. Compared to the average voter with none of these skills or resources, they can be very persuasive to elected officials.
    The problem is the success rate these lobbyists have in influencing the political environment, without regard to the potential damage to society.

    The playing field isn’t level between the lobbyists and the electorate. To level it, we either need to restrict the lobby influence or increase the electorate influence. If we don’t want to restrict the lobby efforts, perhaps every lobby group should be required to “contribute” an equal amount of funding/resources for a “people’s advocate”, as they contribute to their lobbying efforts? Give both sides equal time and resources?

    It strikes me that it would be more economically sound to restrict the lobby influence, and let the politician pay more attention to the issues of elected society.

  85. @oldguy
    Yeah the PBS video was excellent. Obama when he was elected was supposed to basically clean up house with respect to the lobby influence over the government, so were the Conservatives here in Canada.

    But offside of that, it’s interesting now to see, especially in the copyright debate, how much the lobby influence is starting to fade globally and especially with respect to the US lobby. I think people around the world (with the exception of the US) are starting to realize the dangers and political climate which basically has been exposed online. The internet itself is becoming extremely important to democracy. The Internet itself is the biggest democracy in Human history.

    What the copyright debate did, is basically expose who’s trying to get the upper hand to control that democracy. The control’s that industry lobby want to throw up on this democracy in the name of picking up a guitar is unacceptable in a democracy, and will fail because of that. The world learned what that type of power industry is asking for did for the global community in WW2 with Hitler. Even if they had a shred of evidence to support this type of control (which they do not) it still wouldn’t be acceptable, something our artistic community really needs to get a grip on. If this was about artists pay cheques, this debate would have ended long ago.

    Often times it’s hard to see through the dust cloud but change is happening globally on this debate:

    1) Canada backs down several times over IP reform, finally calls for public consultations
    2) Industry lobby is shut out in several venues that provide openness and public debate, including at the UN due to the extent of control they are seeking
    3) Industry tries to sidestep democratic institutions in order to try and push these controls on society they know the public will not agree with ACTA
    4) Member nations at ACTA know these reforms will give massive amounts of controls on society. They start leaking documents
    5) After massive public pressure, and from the EU governing body ACTA becomes public
    6) French president Sarkozy introduces 3 strikes law in France last year. Due up for re-election in 2012, suffers a humiliating defeat in regional elections in 2010, and most of the french hate this guy.
    7) Gordon Brown pushes through industry’s wet dream of a 3 strikes policy in the UK before an election is called. Brown is currently way down in the polls, and the current leading party in the UK election wants to rip up the 3 strikes policy along with the digital economy bill, and restart.
    8) Music debates with industry big wigs, now include those who design and run torrent sites: http://www.musicweek.com/story.asp?sectioncode=1&storycode=1040906&c=1

    Industry lobby has been shut out at every opportunity due to what they are asking for. The money they spent on failed lobbying efforts, could have been better spent on promoting artists. Copyright law does need to change, and artists need to get paid. That I agree with but the credibility of those fighting for that change has been severely beaten up because they have gone too far over the line with no credible evidence. They’re done.

  86. @Jason K
    Yes, we have seen an falloff in apparent lobby influence, but from a quick search/perusal (hard to find and collate data) of the reported dollars spent, it doesn’t seem like it’s because the lobbyists have stopped trying. If anybody has seen recent hard numbers I’d be interested. I suspect what we are seeing is because the problem has become so prevalent that politicians are each doing their own “discounting” of the lobby influence. The system hasn’t changed.

    I agree the internet has become a massive “democratic process” in itself. Once you wade through the chaff, you can get a good sense of the mood and desires of overall society. In particular the “approval/disapproval” style of rating for a particular post or comment gives a sense of the overall agreement or disagreement from people that would never comment themselves. See the CBC.ca and other news sites for an example of this. This is a clue on how to model constituent political feedback, if any politician is paying attention.
    The internet has the potential to challenge a lot of our assumptions about society and government and business and authority figures, and is doing so daily. What we have seen so far is just the beginning. What will we see in the next 20 years?

    I try not to assume malice in anyone’s motives. What I see in the copyright consultation and debate, is corporate entities worried about their next quarterly profits. If it requires that they exert excessive control over the public to attain those results, then that is what they will endeavour to do. If they thought that removing public control would increase profits, they would lobby for that. And they are consummate salesmen. The point is that the long term health of a society is irrelevant to their goals. That is the task we entrust to our elected representatives, and they should not be influenced by the lobbyist goals. As the world changes, businesses have always adapted or died. Just don’t put any more controls (laws) on business or the public, than the minimum required to keep a healthy society.
    It might even be interesting to see how many other laws need to be updated for today’s age? How many are irrelevant? Perhaps we should put our Canadian senate to work figuring out which laws should be thrown out, or updated? I think we might need a younger senate…

  87. @oldguy
    The funny thing is history likes to repeat itself. There is a generation gap in politics that’s for sure. But it floors me that those who fought in the 60′s who are now in power, have virtually become mirrors of those they fought against. It’s virtually the same fight the next gen boomers are having with their representatives. Lennon would be turning in his grave if he knew what was going on today, especially how the music industry has treated things. Music was a pivotal in the 60′s for free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of choice, yet today those very things are threatened by in part the lobby for this industry. I find that very interesting, but don’t take my word for it, Lennon does a good job of that in the first few seconds of this new democratic digital protest:

  88. US Government Admits Most Piracy Studies Are Nonsense
    http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-423

  89. We sampled twenty-five percent of the substantive individual Submissions, and of the professional authors, musicians, filmmakers, performers, photographers and designers, more than 90% were in favour of robust copyright protection as a means to secure their livelihood and protect their artistic integrity.”



    ‘digital’ changed the economic viability of these professions.
    they have to adapt or get new jobs.
    this bill will now kill the free internet. the government does not care what these professions think- the very suggestion exposes a laughable ruse, it`s not about music, film etc it`s about creating totalitarian control. `freedom“ is just the next thing to be killed by digital, get used to it.
    free internet RIP, soon it will be like cable tv

  90. Re: US Government Admits Most Piracy Studies Are Nonsense
    Some very interesting findings here. From: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-423

    “According to experts we spoke with and literature we reviewed, estimating the economic impact of IP infringements is extremely difficult, and assumptions must be used due to the absence of data. Assumptions, such as the rate at which consumers would substitute counterfeit goods for legitimate products, can have enormous impacts on the resulting estimates and heighten the importance of transparency. Because of the significant differences in types of counterfeit and pirated goods and industries involved, no single method can be used to develop estimates, and each method has limitations. Nonetheless, research in specific industries suggest that the problem is sizeable. Most experts we spoke with and the literature we reviewed observed that despite significant efforts, it is difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the net effect of counterfeiting and piracy on the economy as a whole.”

    And

    “Commerce and FBI officials told us they rely on industry statistics on counterfeit and pirated goods and do not conduct any original data gathering to assess the economic impact of counterfeit and pirated goods on the U.S. economy or domestic industries. However, according to experts and government officials, industry associations do not always disclose their proprietary data sources and methods, making it difficult to verify their estimates. Industries collect this information to address counterfeiting problems associated with their products and may be reluctant to discuss instances of counterfeiting because consumers might lose confidence. OECD officials, for example, told us that one reason some industry representatives were hesitant to participate in their study was that they did not want information to be widely released about the scale of the counterfeiting problem in their sectors.”

  91. Question being, if we are to start putting up measures to enforce IP online, shouldn’t we be 100% sure of the economic impact first, both on what would warrant enforcement of IP online, and the effects of any enforcement measures would have on the economy as a whole. What happens if we “trust” industry sources, and we end up like we did with the derivative markets? Shouldn’t more questions be asked and answered before we take up arms on users?

  92. So we have essentially untrustworthy data being put forth by the lobby groups to advance their agenda. Any long term damage to society is irrelevant to this agenda.
    On top of this, we have law enforcement and other policy enforcement agencies repeating this untrustworthy data as though it was fact.

    Having 35+ years in systems analysis and diagnosis, I can say from experience that bad data is actually worse than no data at all. It misleads and wastes time. It is much better to start the analysis with no data at all. A law enforcement agency should know this principle as well.
    When the untrustworthy data is being supplied by an industry to drive a political agenda, it should be doubly suspect.

    Nobody denies it is happening. But there is no clear, quantifiable cause and effect relationship to copyright based industry quarterly results. Just guesses, with an easily identifiable bogeyman.

  93. Re: oldguy
    The industries bitching are in need of systems analysts to help them design around the marketplace, they only problem is they can’t afford us, and if they would actually listen, there are several with that background who are currently giving them and our politicians “free” advice.

    Logic will never set in with respects to culture and arts. They are emotional products, and the debate has turned to emotion rather than logic. I don’t know if the debate will ever be truely settled until the logic of what’s happening presents itself in policy. If you trouble shoot any system, the logic and solutions will eventually be present. We may have to go through the illogical arguments in order to rule them out. But at the end of the day there will be a solution. The legislation is only the beginning steps right, or wrong, in insuring that logic will present itself.

    Even after the economic collapse we still have yet to learn, present preventative steps to ensure our economic stability globally, and that the system of politics and lobbying is extremely flawed. That in a sense has been brought into the open by Jaffer lately. Times are a changing. We will learn eventually.

  94. RE: Jason K
    “Don’t worry about whitey, why would you want to save his views from damage anyway.”

    Don’t worry, that was never my intent. In fact, I have a theory that whitey actually shares our view, but he acts like the opposite in order to further unite and drive us to defend against the extremists he pretends to represent.

    So good going whitey! Continue your efforts to spur us on! You’re an example for us all. :)

  95. Aye
    I agree with Eric L.
    Whitey’s tone and arrogance are just too far fetched to be taken seriously… I have also suspected for a while that he is essentially “concocted” in order to represent the opposite viewpoint and cause more discussion.

    Just sad that it ends up so sarcastic and demeaning due to his tone.

  96. strunk&white says:

    Oy, hilarious and pathetic all at once. Pathlarious.

    Dudes in glass houses shouldn’t throw “tone.” You may recall I’m only on this thread to defend my good name from accusations of vulturism. I’m not sure what “tone” you expect from someone you disparage from afar.

    Step one — understand copyright. Step two — have an opinion on old strunk&white. Call me again when you’ve made it past step one.

    Vive la revolution! To the streets, comrades!

  97. Anonymous Coward says:

    Copyright is a government-enforced monopoly. What’s there to understand?

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